Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)

Photo: D van der Kroef

About the Netherlands’ National Antarctic Program

COMNAP representative (MNAP): Dick van der Kroef, Director
(DMNAP): Daan Blok

Polar research in the Netherlands is coordinated through the Netherlands Polar Programme (NPP) initiated in 2002. This includes both Antarctic and Arctic research. The NPP is operated by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Dutch scientists are sent down with other National Antarctic Programs. While the Netherlands has been a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty since 1967 and a Consultative State since 1990, the Netherlands had no permanent stations in Antarctica. However, in March 2012, three laboratories built in containers were joined together in one docking station at the British Antarctic research station Rothera. The whole structure will be known as the Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory with the separate lab modules named Faith, Love and Annunciation. A fourth laboratory, named Hope, will arrive in December 2012. The labs are built with a sustainable mindset: solar panels, a heat pump extracting heat from external surroundings, and shared facilities reducing environmental impact. From the Dirck Gerritsz Lab, the Netherlands will conduct scientific research in Antarctica.

The Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory is on the left side of the photo, the BAS Bonner lab is on the right side

The Organizational Structure of the Netherlands National Antarctic Program

NWO is organized under the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science. NWO comprises eight divisions which allocate subsidies and grants, mostly within programmatic limitations, to scientists from their own specific disciplines. The divisions have their own budget and Council Board. NWO Earth and Life Sciences finances and stimulates high-grade scientific research in all earth and life sciences. The Netherlands Polar Programme runs within that division.

The NWO has a budget of 500 million euros per year. NWO, in a funding partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (I&M) and the Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation jointly invests appr. 3,0 million euros/year in the Netherlands Polar Programme. About half of that budget is spend on Antarctic research.

The Dutch crown prince and his wife visited Rothera Research Station in Feb. 2009

Our Science Program

The themes of the Netherlands Polar Programme are

  • Ice, climate and sea level
  • Polar oceans
  • Polar ecosystems
  • Human sciences and changes in the polar regions

See our science programme at: http:/

Automatic Weather Station, used by Dutch researchers

The research in the Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory will focus on climate change, glaciology, marine ecology and oceanography. One of the research projects studies the chemical reactions in the atmosphere above Antarctica, caused by climate gases released during algal blooms. The rapid warming along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula promotes algae blooms and thus the global climate. A second research focuses on phytoplankton, viruses and zooplankton, specifically their place in the aquatic food chain and how they respond to climate change. The third project focuses on the changing content of iron and trace elements in seawater and sea ice, elements important to all living organisms. The fourth project studies the increase of melt water from the Antarctic glaciers into the sea, and the fifth project studies the influence of this increase in melt water on the food chain.

Researchers primarily come from Dutch universities and NWO research institutes. Other researchers can apply for grants if they are (among other criteria) part of a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands.

The funding is distributed to the science programs by the NWO Division for Earth and Life Sciences who chooses research projects based on peer-review. There are over 5000 scientists who carry out NWO financed research.

Dutch scientists would not be able to travel to, and work in Antarctica without the logistical help and facilities of other National Antarctic Programs. The Netherlands Polar Programme works very closely with the British Antarctic Survey in the United Kingdom and the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.

Our Contact Details




Java Building:
Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië 300
The Hague
The Netherlands

Postal Address
P.O Box 93138

NL 2509 AC Den Haag
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 (0)70 344 06 40


Dick van der Kroef. MSc.
NWO Division for Earth and Life Sciences
Laan van Nieuw Oost Indië 300

P.O. Box 93510
2509 AM The Hague
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 (0)70 3440708